The issue: Infants die, and it would be comforting to know if infants are saved.
- The doctrine of original sin declares that people are sinful from birth. (See Psalm 51).
- The idea of infants in Hell is depressing, and seems unfair or cruel.
- The Bible gives no passage directly regarding infant salvation.
Here are a few positions that I have heard, but do not believe:
- Just as God elects whom he will save (Romans 9), some of these include infants. (Common among some Calvinists)
- Infants lack the forgiveness of Jesus, and will automatically go to Hell.
- God maintains an “age of accountability,” before which all children are saved. (Common among Baptists)
- Infants who are baptized will probably be saved. (From what I gather, this is what some Lutherans believe).
While the Bible does not directly address the status of infants and salvation, I think there are a few Biblical inferences that can give grieving parents hope without denying the doctrine of original sin.
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.
While Adam’s sinful nature has been imputed to us, death spread because men sin, as is fitting with their nature. Keep in mind while David in Psalm 51 testifies, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me,” he is explaining why he commits sin, not making the statement that having a birth that brought him forth in sin caused him death.
Now I would base most of my thoughts here from verse 13 of Romans 5, where Paul says that sin is not counted where there is no law. To be sure, I don’t believe that this law is the Torah, but rather the conscience that we received upon eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and therefore all men have the law written on their hearts (Romans 2:14). So, the question would become, “Is the law present in an infant?” I don’t think it is. I will go on to show why.
7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.
Now this is some interesting talk. Again, Paul mentions that apart from the law sin lies dead, but what really strikes me is verse 9 where Paul firmly asserts that he actually was alive at one point, until the law came and produced death. So how was Paul alive at one point if, like David, he was conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity? I would suggest it is because the law comes to a human as they gain a conscience. Thus is seems fitting that the infants and some of the mentally handicapped, though born with original sin, have not died because they have no law.
It is for this reason that I believe that all infants will go to Heaven, as well as others who have not yet received the law written on their hearts.